THE only member-based network for women working in every discipline of UK housing has appointed diversity specialist Kam Urwin as chair of its Yorkshire & Humberside region.
The organisation has also welcomed new board members to the region, including Rachael Collins, Jane Atherton, Shelley Williams and Cathy Chattaway. Meanwhile, the North West region has welcomed Emma Hanson and Nicola Brown as joint chairs.
Urwin, who lives in Leeds, is a freelance mentoring-for-diversity specialist and inclusive events facilitator. She has been a member of WISH for three years, originally starting as a member of the North West region, and later becoming a board member. She has also recently become a director of the new WISH Community Interest Company.
She has worked with housing organisations for nearly 15 years, initially supporting victims of domestic violence into appropriate housing and later delivering and managing mentoring programmes nationally.
“I am very grateful to be asked to be chair of WISH Yorkshire and Humberside – it’s a great opportunity to do all the things I care about, helping people and women in particular feel more confident, creative and included,” Urwin said.
“I work with a fantastic group of women; some are new to the board and others who have been there a while. They are enthusiastic, have brilliant ideas and are ready to muck in to put on great events for WISH members. It also gives me an opportunity to develop my leadership and governance skills, which I don’t think I should ever stop developing and improving.”
Urwin added that she is keen to work with the Yorkshire and Humberside board to increase membership and WISH’s presence across the region. With this in mind, the organisation has a packed events calendar lined up.
WISH Yorkshire & Humberside recently held a “Secrets to Success” event where Dr Kelly Henderson, co-founder of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance talked about her personal journey.
In up-coming events, there is a festive networking and drinks event planned for December, with networking coach Sarah Stanley, and the board are hoping to put something together to coincide with International Women’s Day in March 2020.
Meanwhile, the position of chair of the North West region is being shared by Emma Hanson, business development manager at Rochdale-based construction company Casey, and Nicola Brown, who has 21 years’ experience in the sector and is due to join Housing Partners as a business development manager.
“I was still young and new to the sector when I joined WISH five years ago and it helped me massively to grow my confidence and improved my work both personally and professionally,” said Hanson, who has been a board member for just over four years.
“It is a safe network for people to develop themselves personally and professionally and we support each other and celebrate one another’s successes.
“I have had so many fantastic women help me get where I am now, and now it is my turn to give back to others. As co-chair I want to share best practice within the industry and help others to develop their career through interactive, thought-provoking workshops. Collaboration is hugely important, and I want to bring together all those who work within housing to develop new ideas and innovation.”
The region recently hosted a thought-provoking session on the gender pay gap and what it means for housing, as well as an event looking at digitalisation and the digital agenda. Plans are in the pipeline for an event on resilience in November and for Christmas drinks in December, while a joint event with WISH North Wales is planned for next year.
“I am absolutely delighted to be supporting and working with Emma to ensure the North West region continues to thrive,” said Brown. “We want to provide a safe, friendly networking space for any women working in housing within the North West to share and engage and learn – we want to offer sessions on personal development, inspire topical debate and have a friendly forum for women to grow and develop in themselves or their network.”
WISH describes itself as “fun networking community” for all women working in the affordable housing and construction sectors with 10 regional groups. It believes there is strength in the collective and focuses on creating opportunity and impacting change, challenging gender inequality and encouraging new and existing female talent to remain in the sector.